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"The Battle of Britain," Chapter IV of Frank Capra's "Why We Fight"
series, begins after Hitler's conquest of Western Europe. Once firmly
in control of the parts of France and Norway closest to Great Britain,
the Nazis commence their massive air assault on the British isles.
Outnumbered six to one, the fighters of the Royal Air Force defend their
skies against the Luftwaffe for close to four months. Capra embellishes
the British successes, for example the film claims the RAF fought 200
dogfights in the first thirty minutes of the battle alone, and that by
the end of the first month they had destroyed 900 German planes. (In
truth, the number is closer to 260). However, the success of the
British defenses forced the Germans to change strategies, switching to
more frightening night raids that terrorized London. But the British
resolve won the day, in grand fashion. The film claims total German
losses of more than 2,700. The real number is closer to 1,600. The number of downed British planes equaled approximately half that of Germany.
This movie is part of the collection: Cinemocracy
Producer: Frank Capra
Audio/Visual: sound, color
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
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Subject: better print
there's a much cleaner copy at
Subject: The R.A.F. were the best!!
"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."
Subject: Permission to use this clip
I'm interested in using this clip in a movie i'm involved in. I see it has a creative commons public domain licence. Would we be able to get written permission to use this clip (would have to be cleared for use worldwide in perpetuity) if we attribute its source properly? Let me know if this is possible.
Subject: Powerful film, wish we had patriots in Hollywood like this today
I had the opportunity to discuss this film on the Glenn Beck show, a brilliant man. if only the Hollywood film industry would have such a level of patriotism today.
Amazing footage, shows the heroism of USA, British soldiers and thier dedication and commitment to freedom.
It was okay then to say we are fighting the axis of evil.
the most courageous generation of Americans and Brits evr
There was an especially poignant scene of the people of Coventry burying their loved-ones, after the Luftwaffe had bombed them in much the same savagery as was done to Warsaw and Rotterdam.
You'd rarely otherwise see tough and hardy Britons crying.
Neil Hoskins -
Subject: Common People
I don't see how you can say this film doesn't feature ordinary, common people: it's full of them. The target audience, as well as US servicemen, was Rosie the Riveter and her friends, who by that stage of the war were turning the tide decisively. It's therefore showing lots of people in factories, working on despite the hardships. It's hoped that Rosie will think, "If the Brits can do it while they're being bombed, then I can do it". You should also never underestimate the role played by Churchill. There were powerful voices after Dunkirk who were calling for Vichy-style capitulation. Hitler always said we could keep our empire if he had free rein in Europe. Churchill, like my other hero De Gaulle, was having none of it.
The other propaganda factor, the "underdog" aspect, is probably over-played at this point: modern historians are starting to say that even if the RAF had been defeated, the invasion wouldn't have been the walkover everybody seems to think. Even once the RAF had been defeated, the Royal Navy would have played havoc with the invasion fleet.
There are various things missing (not surprisingly, given the period) from this film. What is more surprising is that they get left out of modern histories, too.
- The RAF didn't just 'hold out' against the Luftwaffe, it utterly defeated it and gained air superiority.
- At the height of the defensive battle, Bomber Command managed to send light bombers over to bomb the German invasion fleet, just in case the Germans needed a reminder that they needed air superiority to mount an invasion. That's why there used to be a Blenheim in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, until some oik pranged it.
- The attack was switched to London after Hitler had a tantrum following a Doolittle-style raid by Wellingtons on Berlin. It was a stupid change in tactics, but not as stupid as people think, because it still brought the fighters up where they could be attacked.
Subject: Response to shaddows ww2 post
The film, is a very realistic recognition of
The Battle of Britain. Oh my god what an insult to the FEW SURVIVORS OF WW2, is your reference claiming that the content does not respectfully reflect the real people of that time. Or their society, which was firmly bonded in the singular togetherness of a kindred spirit.
Shadows WW2 -
Subject: 'Real people that won the war'
Articulate and very informative however for me it does not look at real society in Britain at that period. What is missing is what I call real people back then who have come from many backgrounds, mainly conscripted from two up two down back streets of Britian. Often called the 'Tin Bath Brigade'. I am making a film at this moment about such people, who were told after the war to'go home and not to speak of the war'. Contrary to belief Churchill did not win the war these people did, he was though at its helm.Good film but not in touch with the real people of Britian at that time!